On the eve of Greg’s sixteenth birthday his life took a dramatic turn!
“My brother, Wes (Pastor Wes Denham) played a big role in my life” Greg remarked. “He made it clear that I needed to make a decision for the Lord. He told me that I was either for Christ or against Him. It was a reality that shook my life!”
Not long after this conversation, Greg committed his life to Christ and began to lead Bible studies at his home in Palos Verdes, Ca (where he grew up) with his friends from high school. “Looking back at that time, I’m amazed at the great opportunity to have actually ‘taught’ such books as Romans and the book of James verse by verse. It played a huge role in laying a foundation in my life. It was a time when I had great hunger for the Word of God … often I would go to sleep listening to Pastor Chuck Smith’s Bible study tapes.”
Greg attended Calvary Chapel of South Bay, and on Saturday evenings would often travel forty five miles to Orange County to attend Saturday evening evangelistic concerts at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. “Trips to Costa Mesa impacted my life and also many of my friends who made decisions to follow Christ at the Saturday evening concerts! Week after week we witnessed the great combination of music and a Biblical message changing people’s lives!” Little did Greg know at the time that some five years later he would be preaching at those very outreach concerts, while on staff at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. “While in high school I would also make the trek to Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California and listen to Pastor Greg Laurie.”
“I really sensed a call on my life while in high school” Greg says, “and actually prayed that the Lord would open up a door to be an assistant to Pastor Chuck Smith. I recall times of prayer while sitting on the cliffs of Palos Verdes overlooking the ocean and looking to God for direction in my life!”
After graduating high school, Greg moved to Newport Beach, Ca where he attended Orange Coast Junior College. “I played football at Orange Coast, but the main reason I chose the school, was actually to get closer to Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa which happened to be right down the street. I knew what I wanted to do. I had a strong sense of direction to grow as a pastor/teacher.”
Greg would continue to teach a weekly Bible study in a home in Newport Beach while attending Orange Coast College.
He entered the University of California, Irvine his junior year majoring in Philosophy. “I chose Philosophy for a few reasons: one was to sharpen critical thinking, and the other was to improve communication. I felt those skills would be helpful to me in the ministry. I can’t say that I was much of a student at Irvine, much of the time I was working on Bible messages while in class!”
Pastor Chuck Smith invited Greg onto the staff of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa soon after beginning his fall quarter at UC Irvine at the age of twenty; first as an intern pastor, and later to oversee the College and Career ministry- a Bible study group of some 300- 500 people. Eventually, Greg assumed the responsibilities of the Saturday evening outreach concerts. “This was a unique season at Costa Mesa, because we had just purchased KWVE 107.9FM (K-Wave Radio) that had a powerful signal throughout Orange County, and eventually we would broadcast both the outreach concert and the message that I would preach live on K-Wave, and then we would invite those in attendance at the concert and those listening over the radio to join us at Balboa Pier following the outreach to witness for Christ!”
While at Costa Mesa, Greg would meet his wife Stephanie also on staff and marry in 1986, with the birth of their firstborn son Greg II soon to follow.
At the age of twenty-four Greg, Stephanie and “Little Greg” moved to Auburn, California to begin their ministry, where Greg is presently the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel of Auburn and the featured speaker of the Straight Up Radio Program on KFIA 710AM. Greg has led large scale evangelistic crusades in Northern California for over fifteen years, including the Straight Up Summer Jam at Arco Arena, working with such musical guests as, Jars Of Clay, Audio Adrenaline, and Delirious; and having witnessed nearly 5,000 public professions of faith!
Evangelist Greg Laurie says of Pastor Greg, “Greg Denham is a passionate and articulate communicator of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our generation.”
Greg has been a featured speaker at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, and has spoken at a Billy Graham Crusade in Shillong, India. Greg has led fifteen teaching tours to Israel!